WEEKEND READS

Keeping the gears going, staying open to new ideas, finding common experiential threads in humanity, enriching one's travels or traveling without leaving home; the reasons we read are many. Here are the books our faculty and staff are reading right now.

 
 
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my grandmother: an armenian-turkish memoir

fethiye cetin

"Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher.

Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother’s name was not Seher but Heranus. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in 1915. A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. Çetin’s family history tied her directly to the terrible origins of modern Turkey and the organized denial of its Ottoman past as the shared home of many faiths and ways of life.

A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past." —Publisher’s Note

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga

 
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if they come for us

fatimah asghar

“The experience of reading Fatimah Asghar’s debut book of poems, If They Come For Us, is one of being gripped by the shoulders and shaken awake; of having your eyelids pinned open and unable to blink. If They Come For Us is a navigation of home and family, religion and sexuality, history and love. The speaker of these poems appears at once old and incredibly new, a dichotomy that is upheld as the narrative jumps from past to present and all over the last century. And yet, even when we’re told some of these memories and experiences are not the the speaker’s, they still are, somehow. A homeland, even one never seen, sticks in her blood; the trauma endured by her ancestors lives within her DNA. The cultural memory is lodged in the speaker like a knife—one that she may not be able to remove, but one that she could choose not to twist. But twist she does, and by doing so, opens herself to everything, from painful truths to the kindness of strangers. The cultural memory that lives in the speaker’s body is inescapable, but rather than run from it, she faces it boldly, writes it down, and shares it. In these poems, Asghar invites us to stare into the wound and—hopefully—learn from it." —Raye Hendrix, The Adroit Journal

Who's reading this? Alexis Cohen

 
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BLACK ELK SPEAKS

JOHN G. NEIHARDT

Black Elk Speaks is widely hailed as a religious classic, one of the best spiritual books of the modern era and the bestselling book of all time by an American Indian. This inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world. Neihardt understood and today Black Elk is known to all.

Black Elk's remarkable great vision came to him during a time of decimation and loss, when outsiders were stealing the Lakotas' land, slaughtering buffalo, and threatening their age-old way of life. As Black Elk remembers all too well, the Lakotas, led by such legendary men as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, fought unceasingly for their freedom, winning a world-renowned victory at the Little Bighorn and suffering unspeakable losses at Wounded Knee.

Black Elk Speaks however is more than the epic history of a valiant Native nation. It is beloved as a spiritual classic because of John Neihardt's sensitivity to Black Elk's resounding vision of the wholeness of earth, her creatures, and all of humanity. Black Elk Speaks is a once-in-a-lifetime read: the moving story of a young Lakota boy before the reservation years, the unforgettable history of an American Indian nation, and an enduring spiritual message for us all.” —Publisher’s Note

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga

 
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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Bessel van der Kolk

"What has killed more Americans since 2001 than the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? And which serious health issue is twice as likely to affect US women as breast cancer?

The answer, claims psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, lies in what we now understand about trauma and its effects. In his disturbing book, The Body Keeps the Score, he explains how trauma and its resulting stress harms us through physiological changes to body and brain, and that those harms can persist throughout life. Excess stress can predispose us to everything from diabetes to heart disease, maybe even cancer.

Take his two examples. The number of Americans killed by family members exceeds the number that country lost in both wars. But it doesn’t stop there. Imagine the fallout for all who witnessed the murder or likely violence in the years preceding it. And women have double the risk of domestic violence—with the health consequences that brings—as they do of breast cancer.

Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. ‘We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,’ says van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body." —Shaoni Bhattacharya, New Scientist

Who's reading this? Meinir Davies

 
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The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming

Masanobu Fukuoka

"Call it ‘Zen and the Art of Farming’ or a ‘Little Green Book’ Masanobu Fukuoka’s manifesto about farming, eating, and the limits of human knowledge presents a radical challenge to the global systems we rely on for our food. At the same time, it is a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance of the natural world. As Wendell Berry writes in his preface, the book ‘is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is not just about agriculture.’

Trained as a scientist, Fukuoka rejected both modern agribusiness and centuries of agricultural lore. Over the next three decades he perfected his so-called ‘do-nothing’ technique: commonsense, sustainable practices that all but eliminate the use of pesticides, fertilizer, tillage, and perhaps most significantly, wasteful effort.

Whether you’re a guerrilla gardener or a kitchen gardener, dedicated to slow food or simply looking to live a healthier life, you will find something here—you may even be moved to start a revolution of your own.” —New York Review Books

Who's reading this? Gabriel Cohen in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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THE MONK OF MOKHA

DAVE EGGERS

"At its best moments, [The Monk of] Mokha reads like one of those obsessive journalistic explorations of a quotidian object—think John McPhee’s grand Oranges or Mark Kurlansky’s brilliant Cod or Salt. ‘Coffee was a fruit, from a tree,’ Eggers writes: ‘a tree that usually bloomed once a year, and inside each fruit was the coffee bean. And the two halves of the bean were what we typically saw—the tiny bean, oval and with a stripe of concavity down the middle. Two halves of a bean, wrapped inside a fleshy fruit the size of a grape.’

That small fruit yields one of the largest, most consequential crops in the history of civilization. The history of coffee is one of conquest and colonialization, of commerce and art. People throughout much of recorded history have died for coffee, have devoted their lives to coffee, have been enslaved for coffee. Even in modern times, the coffee trade shapes the course of lives around the globe.” —Paul Constant, Los Angeles Times

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga and Mitchell Danielson

 
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BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants

robin wall kimmerer

"Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.” —Publisher’s Note

Who's reading this? Alexis Cohen

 
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SPEAK, MEMORY

VLADIMIR NABOKOV

"Speak, Memory is the one Nabokov work outside his finest novels—The Gift, Lolita, Pale Fire, Ada—that is a masterpiece on their level. It has been rated the greatest of autobiographies, but since such judgments depend so much on the criteria we bring to them, I will call it only the most artistic of autobiographies. It lacks the probing self-analysis of St. Augustine or Tolstoy, or the overt and the inadvertent self-display of Rousseau, the historical and categorical aplomb of Henry Adams, or the sparkling anecdotal flow of Robert Graves. But more than these, and any other autobiographies, it fuses truth to detail with perfection of form, the exact with the evocative, an acute awareness of time with intimations of timelessness." —Brian Boyd, The Guardian

Who's reading this? Krista Manrique

 
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WE ARE DISPLACED: MY JOURNEY AND STORIES FROM REFUGEE GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD

MALALA YOUSAFZAI

"Nobel Peace Prize winner Yousafzai (I Am Malala), who famously survived being shot by Taliban soldiers as a teen in 2012, is a passionate activist for girls’ right to education. Yet, in this profound volume, she sidesteps those aspects of her life to illuminate another experience: displacement—beginning with her family’s forced 2009 evacuation of their Pakistani hometown in response to escalating Taliban violence. Comprising the bulk of the book are urgent, articulate first-person stories from displaced or refugee young women whom Yousafzai has encountered in her travels, whose birthplaces include Colombia, Guatemala, Syria, and Yemen. Their often raw testaments encompass witnessing atrocities (a Congolese native whose family fled to Zambia watched a vigilante mob attack her mother) and harrowing escapes (as the military burns their Myanmar village, a Rohingya Muslim family flees by foot to begin an arduous journey to Bangladesh). The contributors’ strength, resilience, and hope in the face of trauma is astounding, and their stories’ underlying message about the heartbreaking loss of their former lives and homelands (and the resulting “tangle of emotions that comes with leaving behind everything you know”) is profoundly moving." —Publishers Weekly

Who's reading this? Mitchell Danielson in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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Tigerland: 1968-1969, a City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing

Wil Haygood

"During the 1968-1969 school year, an all-black high school soared to win Ohio’s basketball and baseball championships.

Journalist Haygood (Media, Journalism, and Film/Miami Univ.; The Haygoods of Columbus: A Love Story, 2016, etc.), a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, tells a story of perseverance, courage, and breathtaking talent as he recounts, in vibrant detail, the achievements of the Tigers, a basketball and baseball team at Columbus, Ohio’s inner-city East High School. Drawing on interviews with the athletes and their families, coaches, and teachers as well as published and archival sources, the author creates moving portraits of the teenagers and their undaunted coaches and supporters. “Black boys in a white world,” the students lived on the blighted side of town and had always attended underfunded schools; many had mothers who cleaned houses for wealthy whites. But they were uniquely, impressively talented athletes, and sports was a means of proving their worth. The Tigers could not have achieved their success without the help of two dedicated coaches: Bob Hart and Paul Pennell, both white, “big-hearted men who had a social conscience”; nor without the tireless and defiant efforts of Jack Gibbs, Columbus’ first black high school principal, an astute networker who roused support from parents, business owners, and community leaders. Because the East Side had the city’s highest crime rate, Gibbs made sure the students were kept too busy with school activities to get into mischief. East High “became part progressive laboratory, part military school, a place that had high expectations for student achievement.” Haygood dramatically renders the heady excitement of each game, the tense moments of a close contest, and the exuberant—tear-jerking—wins. The inspiring story of East High’s championship becomes even more astonishing in the context of endemic racism, which the author closely examines, and ‘the turmoil of a nation at war and in the midst of unrest,’ roiled by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

An engrossing tale of one shining moment in dark times." —Kirkus Review

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga

 
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Lincoln in the Bardo

George Saunders

"George Saunders’s much-awaited first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is like a weird folk art diorama of a cemetery come to life. Picture, as a backdrop, one of those primitively drawn 19th-century mourning paintings with rickety white gravestones and age-worn monuments standing under the faded green canopy of a couple of delicately sketched trees. Add a tall, sad mourner, grieving over his recently deceased son. And then, to make things stranger, populate the rest of the scene with some Edward Gorey-style ghosts, skittering across the landscape — at once menacing, comical and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Lincoln in the Bardo takes, as its jumping-off point, the death of Abraham Lincoln’s beloved 11-year-old son, Willie, who succumbed to typhoid fever on Feb. 20, 1862, and the grief-stricken president’s visits to the crypt where his son was interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in nearby Georgetown. Saunders intercuts facts and semi-facts (culled from books and news accounts) in a collage-like narrative with some ghost stories of his own imagining, allowing a chorus of disembodied spirits to describe Lincoln’s visits, while babbling on about their own regrets and misplaced dreams. “Bardo” is the Tibetan Buddhist name for a transition period between death and rebirth and seems to indicate, in this case, the bizarre purgatory inhabited by these ghosts." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Who's reading this? Krista Manrique

 
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A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS

AMOS OZ

"Until now, Oz has never written about his unhappy mother and the January day in 1952 when she walked back through the rain to a moldy flat and an overdose of sedatives. Nor had he and his father ever discussed it: ‘From the day of my mother's death to the day of my father's death, 20 years later, we did not talk about her once. Not a word. As if she had never lived. As if her life was just a censured page torn from a Soviet encyclopedia.’ He will make up for that erasure with this indelible memoir, circling so often around the wound, inching up and closing in, that finally Fania's furious son has no other ground to stand on. Oz sits shiva, sings Kaddish and excavates himself like the bone-picking archaeologists at Hazor or Megiddo, digging up bronze coins and headless statues, goatskin bags and incense shovels, valor and shame.

But A Tale of Love and Darkness also mourns the death of the socialist-Zionist dream of a just society and a strange new nationalism, predicated on research universities and string quartets, on comparative literature and experimental agriculture, that turned instead into an acid reflux of checkpoints, demolitions, transit camps, penal colonies and strategic hamlets. As Oz observed in the late 1980's in a collection of essays called The Slopes of Lebanon, ‘What began with the biblical words 'Zion shall be redeemed by law' has come to 'Nobody's better than we are, so they should all shut up.'" —John Leonard, The New York Times

Who's reading this? Claudio Salusso

 
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There there

tommy orange

"Tommy Orange’s novel There There jumps through time and among the voices of 12 narrators, but its sense of place is constant and intentional. From the first chapter, you’re dropped into Oakland, California, biking from the Coliseum BART station to ‘Deep East Oakland, off Seventy-Third, across from where the Eastmont Mall used to be, until things got so bad there they turned it into a police station.’ Over the course of the novel, the characters’ stories weave together, until they are all in one building for an emotional, chaotic powwow in the Oakland Coliseum.

‘I love Oakland and Oakland is my home,’ Orange told CityLab over the phone from Angels Camp, California, where he lives now. ‘It’s not very well presented in novels. I don’t even know if I could name one, where somebody from Oakland wrote a novel about [it].’ (Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue ‘has more of a Berkeley feel to it,’ he says.)

Another experience that’s underrepresented in literature is that of urban Native Americans. Orange, who worked in Oakland’s Native community for a decade before writing There There, told The New York Times earlier this year that he wanted his characters to “struggle in the way that I struggled, and the way that I see other Native people struggle, with identity and with authenticity.” —Gracie McKenzie, CityLab

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY

"Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in Saint Petersburg who formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her money. Before the killing, Raskolnikov believes that with the money he could liberate himself from poverty and go on to perform great deeds; but afterwards he finds himself racked with confusion, paranoia, and disgust for what he has done. His moral justifications disintegrate completely as he struggles with guilt and horror, and confronts the real world consequences of his deed." —Wikipedia

Who's reading this? Yana Meydbray

 
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AMErican sonnets for my past and future assassin

terrance hayes

"The day after the 2016 Presidential election, Terrance Hayes wrote the first of the seventy sonnets collected in his new book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. Time had been altered in some baleful and uncertain way; the sonnet offered an alternative unit of measurement, at once ancient, its basic features unchanged for centuries, and urgent, its fourteen lines passing at a brutal clip. These crisis conditions suit Hayes. A former college basketball star, he treats poetry like a timed game, a theatre for dramatic last-minute outcomes. He freelances inside a form he calls ‘part music box, part meat grinder,’ fashioning a diary of survival during a period when black men are in constant danger.

Hayes, who is forty-six, won the 2010 National Book Award and is a professor at N.Y.U. In his five books, he has perfected a sort of poem where wild jams carom inside arbitrary formal boundaries. For this latest collection, he made one big choice at the outset: all the sonnets share the same title, American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin. This repetition is superstitious, a tribute paid to the imagined assassin, as if the poems can buy back time in fourteen-line reprieves. Like a coin toss that keeps coming up heads, iterated titles suggest an occult lucky streak bound to break." —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

Who's reading this? Krista Manrique, Kyle Walenga, Mitchell Danielson and Alexis Cohen in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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CLIMATE JUSTICE

MARY ROBINSON

"The dire news in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has probably rendered a lot of people sleepless this week, but Mary Robinson has been up at night worrying about climate change for more than a decade. The former president of Ireland and UN commissioner of human rights has spent the last 15 years advocating for those on the front lines of climate change, and as president of the Mary Robinson Foundation, she’s argued tirelessly that climate change is fundamentally a human rights issue. Now she has written a new book, Climate Justice, which details the stories of activists working in frontline communities around the globe." —Wendy Becktold, Sierra Club

Who's reading this? Alexis Cohen in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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BIRD SONGS DON’T LIE: WRITINGS FROM THE REZ

Gordon lee johnson

“In this deeply moving collection of short stories and essays, Gordon Lee Johnson (Cupeño/Cahuilla) cements his voice not only as a wry commentator on American Indian reservation life but also as a master of fiction writing. In Johnson's stories, all of which are set on the fictional San Ignacio reservation in Southern California, we meet unforgettable characters like Plato Pena, the Stanford-bound geek who reads Kahlil Gibran during intertribal softball games; hardboiled investigator Roddy Foo; and Etta, whose motto is ‘early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise,’ as they face down circumstances by turns ordinary and devastating. From the noir-tinged mystery of Unholy Wine to the gripping intensity of Tukwut, Johnson effortlessly switches genre, perspective, and tense, vividly evoking people and places that are fictional but profoundly true to life. The nonfiction featured in Bird Songs Don't Lie is equally revelatory in its exploration of complex connections between past and present. Whether examining his own conflicted feelings toward the missions as a source of both cultural damage and identity, sharing advice for cooking for eight dozen cowboys and -girls, or recounting an influx of New Age seekers of enlightenment in the Pushcart-nominated 100 White Women, Johnson plumbs the comedy, catastrophe, and beauty of his life on the Pala Reservation to thunderous effect." —Publisher’s Note

Who's reading this? Kyle Walenga in partnership with Green Apple Books

 
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THE BOOK OF FORGIVING

DESMOND TUTU AND MPHO TUTU

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chair of The Elders and Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with his daughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu, offer a manual on the art of forgiveness—helping us to realize that we are all capable of healing and transformation.

Tutu's role as the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission taught him much about forgiveness. If you asked anyone what they thought was going to happen to South Africa after apartheid, almost universally it was predicted that the country would be devastated by a comprehensive bloodbath. Yet, instead of revenge and retribution, this new nation chose to tread the difficult path of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Each of us has a deep need to forgive and to be forgiven. After much reflection on the process of forgiveness, Tutu has seen that there are four important steps to healing: Admitting the wrong and acknowledging the harm; Telling one's story and witnessing the anguish; Asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness; and renewing or releasing the relationship. Forgiveness is hard work. Sometimes it even feels like an impossible task. But it is only through walking this fourfold path that Tutu says we can free ourselves of the endless and unyielding cycle of pain and retribution. The Book of Forgiving is both a touchstone and a tool, offering Tutu's wise advice and showing the way to experience forgiveness. Ultimately, forgiving is the only means we have to heal ourselves and our aching world." —Publisher’s Note

Who's reading this? Alexis Cohen in partnership with Green Apple Books

 

Past Reads

BEHAVE: THE BIOLOGY OF HUMANS AT OUR BEST AND WORST

ROBERT M. SAPOLSKY

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED: THE HUMAN STORY RETOLD THROUGH OUR GENES

ADAM RUTHERFORD

THE CALIFORNIA FIELD ATLAS

WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED: OBI KAUFMANN

DESCHOOLING SOCIETY

Ivan illich

Destiny DISRUPTED: A HISTORY OF THE WORLD THROUGH ISLAMIC EYES

TAMIM ANSARY

THE DISORDERED MIND

ERIC R. KANDEL

FAUST

JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE

FAUST

IVAN TURGENEV

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

BARBARA KINGSOLVER

FReedom is a constant struggle: ferguson, palestine and the foundations of a movement

angela y. davis

A GARDEN TO DYE FOR

CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN

HOUSEKEEPING

MARILYNNE ROBINSON

mother of all questions

rebecca solnit

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Howard Zinn

RAIN OF GOLD

VICTOR VILLASENOR

THE RESURGENCE OF THE REAL: BODY, NATURE AND PLACE IN A HYPERMODERN WORLD

CHARLENE SPRETNAK

The Scent of Time: A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering

Byung-Chul Han, Daniel Steuer (Translator)

SCIENCE AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICES

RUPERT SHELDRAKE

SILENT SPRING

Rachel carson

The spell of the sensuous

david abram

THE TIGER: A true story of vengeance and survival

john vaillant

UNDENIABLE: EVOLUTION AND THE SCIENCE OF CREATION

BILL NYE

THE UNSETTLING OF AMERICA: CULTURE & AGRICULTURE

WENDELL BERRY

WHERE MEN WIN GLORY

JON KRAKAUER

THE WELL-SPOKEN THESAURUS: THE MOST powerful ways to say everyday words and phrases

tom heehler